Why do I have a shadow?

The reason that you have a shadow is that a shadow is what happens when light gets blocked!

That might not be something you've ever thought about before -- that light is something which can be "blocked" -- but in order to get a better idea of what that means, think about this: When you point a flashlight at a wall, you can see how the flashlight's beam of light hits the wall. But, if you were to put your hand in the middle of the beam of the light and look at the wall again, you would see that where your hand is blocking the light, it has created a shadow on the wall... and if you looked at your hand, you would see that the light is now hitting your hand and covering your hand with light, instead!

This is same thing that happens when you are outside standing in the sun: Your body comes in between the beams of light from the sun and the ground it is aimed at, just like your hand comes in between the beams of light from the flashlight and the wall it was aimed at!

By Brian Griffin (Whyzz writer)


Shadows here, shadows there, shadows everywhere!

Next time you're outside on a sunny day, take a look around and see if you and your shadow can find some other things that have shadows too! Try looking at trees, houses, mailboxes, or some toys on your yard or at the playground. Or, next time you're home on a cloudy day, try making some shadows of your own! Set up a flashlight to point a blank wall, and see what kinds of "shadow animals," like dogs or bunnies, you can make with your hands! COOL!

Further Information

One reason why your body is able to block light and create shadows is that it's opaque, meaning it's something that fully blocks light. Other objects can be transparent or translucent. Transparent objects are the opposite of opaque, like glass and water light passes through them completely. Translucent objects are in between opaque and transparent, like mesh screens or thin fabric some light will pass through, but not all of it.


Why study shadows? Science Works. The University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Department of Physics and Astronomyshadow. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.Nebel, Bernard J. Ph.D. Chapter 16 Light, Rainbows, and Waves. Nebels Elementary Education. Maryland: Nebels Press for Learning,